The Department of Labor (DOL) published a proposed rule this week that would change the rules concerning the role consultants play in union organizing campaigns by adopting reporting requirements advocated by organized labor.

Under the current rule, employers must report arrangements with third party consultants hired to influence employees in connection with union organizing campaigns and union bargaining.  An exception to this reporting requirement, however, allows employers and consultants not to file a report when the consultant is only giving advice to the employer and does not communicate directly with the employees.

The proposed rule would remove this exception and would require employers to disclose arrangements with consultants that issue communications on behalf of the employers that are designed to directly or indirectly persuade employees concerning their rights to organize or bargain collectively whether or not the consultant contacts the employees directly.

Under this proposed change, an employer and consultant each must file a report concerning an agreement or arrangement pursuant to which the consultant engages in “activities that have as a direct or indirect object to, explicitly or implicitly, influence the decisions of employees with respect to forming, joining or assisting a union, collective bargaining, or any protected concerted activity in the workplace.”  A report would not be required if the agreement or arrangement is limited exclusively to providing advise to an employer.  Examples of such advice are counseling employer’s on what they may lawfully say to employees, ensuring an employer’s compliance with current laws and regulations, or providing guidance on National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) practices or precedents.

Comments on the proposed rule by August 22.  The proposed rule is available at www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-21/pdf/2011-14357.pdf.

 

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